Union to Benefit from Normal 2011

Unbalanced schedule, expansion challenges impacted 2010

In a normal season, the Union just might have been fighting for a playoff spot with one game remaining.

But this was hardly a normal season.

The club was put together one piece at a time and these players had to come together at a rapid pace in time to play eight of the first 10 league matches on the road. PPL Park was in the final phase of construction, so the first two home games were held at Lincoln Financial Field.

New faces, new places, new team.

It was never a normal season.

“Yeah, I’d say it was very difficult,” said midfielder Andrew Jacobson. “You have preseason training and you try to put a team together quickly. It wasn’t easy. I thought considering everything, we did very well. The competitive fire was there from us even though so many of our young players were going through this for the first time.”

As the season progressed, so did the Union.

The players became familiar with one another. The raucous home crowds at PPL Park really helped. Just getting game experience was a major asset.

"I believe if we would have had three home games in our first six the year would have been different," said Coach John Hackworth. "Because of the type of team we are, and the way we play, that we might not have been in the hole we were in. That felt like a hole that we never could actually climb out of.

"And if we had some of those games in (PPL Park), knowing the energy, the atmosphere, and the way we play - I dont think we would have been in that situation. We might have been .500 but we would have been, like every other team in the league, battling and scrapping. Next year, being at home, having our own place to open up, it's going to be a huge advantage for us."

With one final regular season match looming Sunday at Columbus, the players are excited about the future.

They understand the talent that exists in the Union locker room.

“We wish there were more games to play because we are really starting to come together,” said goalkeeper Brad Knighton. “We’re a confident team. At the beginning of the season, we were kind of trying to find our way. I think even greater things are ahead for us next season and beyond. We’re a totally different club now than we were when the season started.”

While there will certainly be changes before next season, the core will remain in tact and the future sure is bright.

“We have a great locker room here and the guys are all on the same page,” said defender Jordan Harvey. “However the club comes back, we know the improvement we showed this season will benefit us next season. We all believe that.”